ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Senior Airman Asylbek Dzhapashov, a personnel specialist with the Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Mission Support Group, was born and raised in Kyrgyzstan, a small landlocked country in Central Asia.
For most of his life, Dzhapashov dreamed of moving to the United States to better his chances at achieving his goals. About seven years ago, at 23, he did just that.
"I knew about the United States from movies, sports, news and books," said Dzhapashov. "I knew that this country is the country of dreams and opportunities. That was my main reasoning for moving here; to chase my dreams, opportunities and a better life."
After moving to the United States, Dzhapashov lived in Newport, Oregon. He spent the next few years living in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco before settling in Ellensburg, Washington. While traveling the country, Dzhapashov worked numerous jobs, from washing dishes and serving tables to driving taxicabs and semitrucks to provide for his family and save money for college.
While attending Central Washington University, where he earned a computer science degree in 2019, Dzhapashov joined the Washington Air National Guard — serving one weekend a month and two weeks a year.
"The main reason for me joining was I always wanted to be in the military and for the benefits," said Dzhapashov. "However, after I joined, it became bigger than that. I love this country, and I can proudly say I serve for my country because it gave me and my family so much that I couldn't imagine. Also, my daughter was born here, and I want to be a great role model for her."
After completing his degree, Dzhapashov took advantage of an opportunity to work full time as a software engineer with Amazon through a military apprenticeship program. This allowed him to move to Atlanta in 2020.
Dzhapashov decided to continue his military career and transferred to the Georgia Air National Guard, where he serves in the 116th Air Control Wing. He also earned his U.S. citizenship that year.
"Being a member of the Georgia Air National Guard is great, and I love my unit, my group and my wing," Dzhapashov said. "I am surrounded with amazing people and with leadership who are role models for me. Leadership is always open-minded and always ready to help. For example, when we had a fire in our apartment complex, my unit was there for us and helped a lot. My unit is my family. I enjoy the opportunities and I am always ready to defend and serve for our country. I am proud and happy to be part of it."
English is Dzhapashov's third language. His first is Kyrgyz, followed by Russian. He also speaks Turkish fluently as his fourth language. In his free time, Dzhapashov enjoys time with his family, playing soccer and freestyle wrestling. And he is always ready to encourage others to set goals and achieve them.
"It has been a rough ride for me since I moved here," said Dzhapashov. "I moved to America with only $300. I always tell people to keep pushing and searching. Nowadays, it's easy to find answers online or you can always ask people. Getting a degree is still important, and it helps to boost yourself for better jobs, but it's not a necessity."